Ed Miliband has vowed to raise the minimum wage to at least £8 an hour if his party wins May’s general election.
The Labour leader unveiled the pledge in two Sunday newspapers, saying the lowest-paid workers create wealth “just as much as the top entrepreneurs” and businesses and the Government must reward them.
“Too many working people have made big sacrifices but in this recovery they’re not seeing the rewards for their hard work because, under the Tories’ failing plan, the recovery is benefiting a privileged few far more than most families,” he told the Sunday Mirror.
Mr Miliband unveiled the pledge ahead of the Labour Party annual conference starting on Sunday, signalling a focus on working families.
The minimum wage was already due to rise by 19p next month to £6.50 an hour, which the Conservatives emphasised was an above-inflation increase.
But speaking to the Observer, Mr Miliband argued that the Coalition had failed to prevent a dramatic fall in living standards in its measures for economic recovery.
“It is about values,” he said. “It is about saying that this country does not work for millions of working people and we are going to change it.”
Labour’s increase, to be introduced in stages by October 2019, would push the minimum wage above the figure called for by the Living Wage Foundation, which wants £7.65 an hour, rising to £8.80 in London.
It would bring the UK in line with Australia and EU countries including Belgium and Germany but £8 an hour is still less than France and New Zealand offers its lowest-paid workers.
According to the Low Pay Commission, there are 1,386,000 minimum-wage jobs across the UK.
In pictures: Ed Miliband trying to look normal
In pictures: Ed Miliband trying to look normal
1/17 The beggar
Ed Miliband casually gives money to a homeless woman in Manchester, surrounded by press photographers.
2/17 The Bacon Sandwich
Ed Miliband buys a bacon sandwich from cafe owner Antonios Foufas at New Covent Garden Market in London as he kicks off a day of campaigning on the eve of the local and European elections
3/17 The Bacon Sandwich
Ed Miliband chats with a cafe owner Antonios Foufas at New Covent Garden Market in London
4/17 The Bacon Sandwich
Ed Miliband embarked on a whirlwind campaign tour of England - but struggled at the first hurdle (a bacon sandwich). Aides intervened after just a few less-than-elegant bites
5/17 Flower Shopping
Ed Miliband talks with a couple of traders at New Covent Garden Market in London
6/17 Flower Shopping
Ed Miliband purchases some red roses for his wife at New Covent Garden Market in London
7/17 Talking Business
Ed Miliband talks with a trader at New Covent Garden Market in London
8/17 Good Morning Britain
Miliband on ITV's Good Morning Britain show on 20 May 2014, a day of gaffes in which he was also caught out by BBC Wiltshire for not knowing who the local Labour leader was
9/17 '£70 Weekly Shop'
Ed was accused of being 'out of touch with reality' after he seemed not to know what he - or the average British family - spends on a weekly food shop
10/17 Drop in Polls
Ed Miliband paid a visit to Leighton Hospital in Crewe to speak with the staff about the NHS, but faced difficult questions about polls showing his personal ratings falling well behind those David Cameron and George Osborne
11/17 On the Sofa with Farage
Ed Miliband appeared on the Andrew Marr Show to debate with Nigel Farage - but has all but conceded defeat in the Newark by-election, allowing Ukip a free run at the Tories
12/17 Wollies in Wellies
Miliband was among a number of politicians to come under fire for 'touring' the floods in the South and South West earlier this year
13/17 Wollies in Wellies
The Labour leader admitted it was 'a difficult decision for politicians whether to visit areas like this'
14/17 Missed Opportunity
Miliband's performance at the Labour conference last year failed to make much of an impression on voters, polls suggested
15/17 Sharing the Moment
Miliband, Nick Clegg, David Cameron and Angus Robinson enjoy their moment with Andy Murray, after the tennis player's Wimbledon win
16/17 Casual Husband
Miliband and his wife Justine are pictured in their hotel room in Brighton as he prepares to give his keynote speech to the annual Labour Party Conference
17/17 The Milibands
Just your average family of four?
The Labour conference will also see the launch of the party’s plans for Homes Corporations to build 200,000 new homes a year and measures to safeguard the NHS.
A Tory spokesperson dismissed the pledge as an “empty promise”, criticising Labour’s record on housebuilding and the economy, while the Liberal Democrats said they would help lower-paid workers with tax cuts.Reuse content